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Government workers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including those on the Youth Empowerment Service (YES) Programme, who make EC$546 or less a month, are being paid less money than is required for them to live above the poverty line.

This is according to data compiled from the latest poverty assessment, which the government is yet to release, almost three years later than scheduled.

However, the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) gave the data to the media at a press conference in Kingstown, on Wednesday. 

“I just want to pause for a minute or two to point out that this government, by paying people on the YES programme $450 a month, has those people below the poverty line,” said NDP chairman, Daniel Cummings, the incumbent MP for West Kingstown. 

“In other words, all the people employed by the government getting $450 a month are being paid less than the poverty line. No wonder [Opposition Leader] Dr. [Godwin] Friday has proposed that we are going to increase that by at least $200 to take those people above the poverty line,” Cummings said, referring to the NDP leader, who was also at the press conference.

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“And that those who will be working with the private sector will be getting at least double that because the private sector will be matching,” he said.

The report shows that the monthly poverty line — the minimum expenditure required by an individual/household to fulfil their basic food and non-food needs — was estimated at EC$546.

The indigent/food line — the minimum amount of money needed to purchase some basic food bundle — was EC$262 monthly.

Households or persons unable to meet the cost of obtaining these basic food items are categorised as critically poor, indigent or food poor.

The data shows that 36.1% of the population was poor and 11.3% indigent.

The indigent population was about 12,421 residents and the majority of the poor and indigent reside in rural communities, but urban poor was also present.

The working poor were mainly engaged in industries such as agriculture, forestry and fishing; farmers and farm labourers; construction; construction labourers; wholesale and retail trade; cashiers; education; and cleaners/janitors

The opposition leader noted that note even a job guarantees that a person would avoid poverty in SVG.

“Among those who are working, people who are actually being paid a wage live below the poverty line.”

Friday said that when he speaks on the campaign platform about increasing the monthly payment for YES workers to EC$650, it is because of poverty in the country.

“So that they can put something in their pocket, because the truth is, for many of those persons, by the end of the month, they are actually subsidizing their job, because they can’t afford transportation, they have to bum a ride to get to work, or they can’t afford to pay for food,” the opposition leader said.

He added: 

“And the evidence here is that they are being paid below, monthly, what is required, what is considered to be the poverty rate. So, you ask the question, but how is it helping. But, to go back to the issue, the general statistics among the working poor, among the employed, the poverty rate was 25.2%.”

“In a Labour government,” Cummings added

5 replies on “Some gov’t workers’ pay below poverty line”

  1. Why are they ashamed to release their findings themselves? I have a dual citizenship and on my visits home do wonder how people manages, especially in the supermarkets. I believe that why there are a lot of diabetics and hypertensives, my observation is that people are unable to eat healthy here due to low wages, high unemployment and high cost of living. Anyhow, my analysis is that some are doing quiet well, they are getting richer, while the majority is getting poor.

  2. All what is being said is very misleading, and the solutions are even more off-target! HEREIN LIES THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF ECONOMICS!

    Certainly our present economic system in SVG is a total failure, but the solution is not to raise everyone’s pay, causing higher taxes resulting in higher costs. The solution is to:…
    implement measures to LOWER COSTS, leaving more money in people’s pockets!
    CUT BUREAUCRACY (In particular our very terrible Customs procedure), CUT TAXES, CUT THE SIZE OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR SUCH A TINY NATION, only after first implementing measures for the private sector to employ these laid-off workers.
    Raising the cost of labor raises the cost of our product and lowers incentive for foreign markets to buy from us: killing our ability to export!

    The first law of prosperity:
    PRODUCE MORE THAN YOU CONSUME (so that you can export the rest, and DEVELOP!!!
    I think Daniel Cummings is great! but it sounds like his economics are worse than our PM!

    One of the “under-paid” jobs is listed as being in agriculture. Consider the fact that SVG FARM WORKERS ARE THE HIGHEST PAID IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD! in fact: AT 18.00 US$ a day the SVG farm workers are paid more than the majority of farm workers in the USA!!! Mexican and S. American farm workers in the USA get 7.00 US$ a day!!!! Those workers go to the USA because they are only paid around 2.00 US$ a day(average) in South America. Even worse than this is that government in the USA often subsidizes agriculture putting even more pressure on poor countries! THAT IS WHY THAT AT ONE TIME SVG GOVERNMENT TRIED TO KILL AGRICULTURE HERE!
    Agriculture in SVG has failed mainly because no one abroad wants to pay our high prices. For agriculture to work we have to be smarter…MUCH SMARTER! AND THAT DOES NOT SEEM TO BE HAPPENING!

  3. Nathan 'Jolly' Green says:

    Get them out and lets all get jobs again that pay proper living wages.

    You all deserve better folks, you know what to do on November 5th, go vote them out.

Comments closed.